Stability of a model of relativistic quantum electrodynamics

Elliott H. Lieb, Michael Loss

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The relativistic no pair model of quantum electrodynamics uses the Dirac operator, D(A) for the electron dynamics together with the usual self-energy of the quantized ultraviolet cutoff electromagnetic field A - in the Coulomb gauge. There are no positrons because the electron wave functions are constrained to lie in the positive spectral subspace of some Dirac operator, D, but the model is defined for any number, N, of electrons, and hence describes a true many-body system. In addition to the electrons there are a number, K, of fixed nuclei with charges ≤ Z. If the fields are not quantized but are classical, it was shown earlier that such a model is always unstable (the ground state energy E = - ∞) if one uses the customary D(0) to define the electron space, but is stable (E < -const. (N + K)) if one uses D(A) itself (provided the fine structure constant α and Z are not too large). This result is extended to quantized fields here, and stability is proved for α 1/137 and Z ≤ 42. This formulation of QED is somewhat unusual because it means that the electron Hilbert space is inextricably linked to the photon Fock space. But such a linkage appears to better describe the real world of photons and electrons.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Stability of Matter
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Atoms to Stars: Fourth Edition
PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)3540420835, 9783540222125
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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